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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Brown, Dan: Angels & Demons | Main | Mulroy, David: The War Against Grammar »

Sullivan, Robert: Rats

  

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Bloomsbury © 2004, 256 pages [amazon]
4 stars

Author Robert Sullivan spent many nights over the course of a year observing the nocturnal goings-on--rat-watching, in other words--in an L-shaped alley (actually the intersection of two alleys, Ryders Alley and Edens Alley) in Manhattan, just blocks away from Wall Street and City Hall and the site of the World Trade Center. (Sullivan had been trying to trap a rat in his alley in the early morning of September 11th, 2001.) The alley he selected is bounded by a Chinese restaurant on one side and an Irish pub on the other, so that its greasy-slick cobblestones are awash nightly in edible garbage of both ethnic varieties, palatable to aficionados of either type. The alley is, in short, the perfect place to raise children.

The alley he selected is bounded by a Chinese restaurant on one side and an Irish pub on the other, so that its greasy-slick cobblestones are awash nightly in edible garbage of both ethnic varieties, palatable to aficionados of either type. The alley is, in short, the perfect place to raise children.Rats, as it happens, have a lot of children to raise. Among the skin-crawlingly fascinating bits of information Sullivan provides in his highly readable paean to the Rattus norvegicus, or brown rat, is that both male and female rats can have sex twenty times a day.

"If they are not eating, then rats are usually having sex. Most likely, if you are in New York while you are reading this sentence or even in any other major city in America, then you are in proximity to two or more rats having sex."

Nor is their copulation unproductive:

"One rat's nest can turn into a rat colony of fifty rats in six months. one pair of rats has the potential of 15,000 descendants in a year."

Sullivan's observations on rats in general and on the rats in his alley in particular are interspersed with rat-related asides. He includes in his book, for example, chapters on New York's rat-motivated rent strikes in the 1960s and the rat fights of the 19th century, in which single dogs--and more rarely men--were pitted against scores of rats at a time for the amusement of a human audience. Some of Sullivan's tangents are more interesting than others, and readers will differ in their preferences. (The anecdotes of rat-hardened exterminators or urine baths as precaution against the Black Death? There is something here for every taste.) And Sullivan sometimes gets carried away with his poeticizing of the rat's experience and relationship to man. (I mean, they're just rats.) The book as a whole, however, is a delightful look at a rarely-considered world that is, often quite literally, right beneath our feet.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

Excellent review! This looks like exactly what I've been looking for.

2.

Thanks, Clare! Funny to think that what you've been looking for (all your life, I assume) is a book about rats.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.